Let's go back to something this August. Let's go back to talking about sex toys. A young companion and I have been discussing the issue, and I suspect that the whole issue is making me increasingly unhappy.
My friend has an extensive collection of toys and accessories, and she tells me that she acquired her first vibrator at not quite sixteen. She's proud of her collection, and proud of the research she's done about brands and performance. I sat the other evening and listened to her enthuse about her new glass butt plug and how brilliant it is to chill it in a bowl of ice water before use. I'm quite good at a fixed smile, mind you. I just smiled and nodded and filed away the details in my mental archives...and felt increasingly depressed.
She sees it as a kind of mission to convince me that toys are for everyone, that everyone needs a set of toys. She's completely uncomprehending about my own fears. Don't you want to try things that'll give you pleasure? Why are you afraid to try things? She does ask me that. Sometimes she laughs and makes jokes about it being a generational thing--- I thought your generation was all about free love. Mostly, though, she's baffled about why I'd be afraid or ashamed of trying things that would enhance my own pleasure and let me know more about what my body needs. My Lelo, she says, taught me so much!
One evening not so very long ago, she went to a sex toy shop--- someplace expensive, someplace that branded itself as being all about "sensual exploration" and "adventures in intimacy" ---and phoned me from there. She told me to get on FaceTime, that she and I were going shopping together. I had to laugh, really. This was my own private documentary about sex shops, with a lovely blonde girl in her later twenties showing me everything. Now I'll admit that I felt very twenty-first century about the tour. Using FaceTime is a novelty for me. Nonetheless, that was the only device I felt comfortable with that night.
She did show me things she liked, and she did a whole infomercial tour of items she though I'd like or that we could use together. Again, I had my fixed smile on while I tried to puzzle out what I was feeling. The things to be used together didn't bother me. I have no problem with that. But the things she showed me that she thought I'd like on my own--- those things left me depressed.
That I might be jealous of the toys she liked for herself, that as a male I might feel a sense of rivalry with her collection of dildos and vibrators--- that at least makes sense to me. That I might raise an eyebrow and grin at her inevitable choice of colours for her (inevitably very large) dildos---- black (a posh blonde white girl must-have) or a kind of rich caramel (her Polynesian fetish, her dreams of Maori and Tongan boys) ---makes sense, too. A tour that was only for her own pleasure would've been amusing. The things she told me I needed for myself, the things she did threaten to buy for me--- those things left me sad and miserable.
Part of the shame I felt was doubtless at my own reaction. Is part of what I'm feeling just homophobia, just fear of being thought gay if I use the toys? That's a disturbing and shameful thought.
Is it shame at using because I'm male--- when the Arbitrary Social Rules define sex toys as something "empowering" when used by attractive young girls but shameful and a mark of failure when used by males? Worse--- much worse ---is it shame at the idea of using them when I'm neither young nor physically buff? I suppose I'm imagining the invisible audience watching and being disgusted and brutally mocking me for being an aged perv doing disgusting things while looking even more disgusting. In some meta-sense, of course, is it more of a sign of failure that I allow the fear of an invisible set of judges to destroy so many things I do or might try doing?
Maybe it's that I'm uncomfortable with the idea of pleasure. I've never been very good at unmediated physical pleasure. I take very little pleasure in things or sensations themselves. I'm only truly attracted or thrilled by the stories behind what's happening, by the settings and backstories. Something that feels good on its own means very little to me. Being part of a story, being a well-crafted character in a good story--- that's where I derive pleasure. Using sex toys alone wouldn't be part of a story where I'm a character good enough to be having sex with a beautiful young companion.
My friend spent a few hundred dollars on toys that night. Ah, posh blonde girls whose Christmas bonuses at work equal my annual salary! She was gentle and pleasant and fun and upbeat with me over FaceTime. She was going to enjoy herself a lot with her new toys, she said, and she'd bought things she and I could try together. She was even upbeat about the things she'd shown me that I could use myself. I want you to have pleasure, she said. I want to you try things and find your pleasure.
I kept smiling and nodding, which was all that I could do. I'm even ashamed to tell her about all the depth of my fears.
There's rather a chance that I'm not suited at all for pleasure--- something you'd think I'd have learned after all these years.